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Maxine Waters
Congresswoman Waters official photo.jpg
Waters in 2012
Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Preceded by Patrick McHenry
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019
Preceded by Barney Frank
Succeeded by Patrick McHenry
Chair of the House Financial Services Committee
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2023
Preceded by Jeb Hensarling
Succeeded by Patrick McHenry
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Donald M. Payne
Succeeded by Jim Clyburn
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
Assumed office
January 3, 1991
Preceded by Augustus Hawkins
Constituency 29th district (1991–1993)
35th district (1993–2013)
43rd district (2013–present)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 48th district
In office
December 6, 1976 – November 30, 1990
Preceded by Leon D. Ralph
Succeeded by Marguerite Archie-Hudson
Personal details
Born
Maxine Moore Carr

(1938-08-15) August 15, 1938 (age 85)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouses
Edward Waters
(m. 1956; div. 1972)
Sid Williams
(m. 1977)
Children 2
Education California State University, Los Angeles (BA)

Maxine Moore Waters (née Carr; born August 15, 1938) is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative for California's 43rd congressional district since 1991. The district, numbered as the 29th district from 1991 to 1993 and as the 35th district from 1993 to 2013, includes much of southern Los Angeles, as well as portions of Gardena, Inglewood and Torrance.

A member of the Democratic Party, Waters is in her 17th House term. She is the most senior of the 13 black women serving in Congress, and chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 1997 to 1999. She is the second-most senior member of the California congressional delegation, after Nancy Pelosi. She chaired the House Financial Services Committee from 2019 to 2023 and has been the ranking member since 2023.

Before becoming a U.S. representative, Waters served seven terms in the California State Assembly, to which she was first elected in 1976. As an assemblywoman, she advocated divestment from South Africa's apartheid regime. In Congress, she was an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War and has sharply criticized Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Waters was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2018.

Early life and education

Waters was born in 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Remus Carr and Velma Lee (née Moore). The fifth of 13 children, she was raised by her single mother after her father left the family when Maxine was two. She graduated from Vashon High School in St. Louis before moving with her family to Los Angeles in 1961. She worked in a garment factory and as a telephone operator before being hired as an assistant teacher with the Head Start program in Watts in 1966. Waters later enrolled at Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles), where she received a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1971.

Early political career

In 1973, Waters went to work as chief deputy to City Councilman David S. Cunningham, Jr. She was elected to the California State Assembly in 1976. In the Assembly, she worked for the divestment of state pension funds from any businesses active in South Africa, a country then operating under the policy of apartheid, and helped pass legislation within the guidelines of the divestment campaign's Sullivan Principles. She ascended to the position of Democratic Caucus Chair for the Assembly.

U.S. House of Representatives

Maxine Waters and Bill Clinton
Waters greeting President Bill Clinton in 1994
P20210630AS-2668 (51361593531)
Waters watches as President Joe Biden signs the Methane, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and True Lender CRA Bills in 2021

Elections

Upon the retirement of Augustus F. Hawkins in 1990, Waters was elected to the United States House of Representatives for California's 29th congressional district with over 79% of the vote. She has been reelected consistently from this district, renumbered as the 35th district in 1992 and as the 43rd in 2012, with at least 70% of the vote.

Waters has represented large parts of south-central Los Angeles and the Los Angeles coastal communities of Westchester and Playa Del Rey, as well as the cities of Torrance, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale.

Tenure

Representative Maxine Waters during a Judiciary Committee hearing related to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton (1)
Waters at a 1998 House Committee on the Judiciary hearing during the Impeachment inquiry against Bill Clinton

Waters chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 1997 to 1998. In 2005, she testified at the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearings on "Enforcement of Federal Anti-Fraud Laws in For-Profit Education", highlighting the American College of Medical Technology as a "problem school" in her district. In 2006, she was involved in the debate over King Drew Medical Center. She criticized media coverage of the hospital and asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny a waiver of the cross ownership ban, and hence license renewal for KTLA-TV, a station the Los Angeles Times owned. She said, "The Los Angeles Times has had an inordinate effect on public opinion and has used it to harm the local community in specific instances." She requested that the FCC force the paper to either sell its station or risk losing that station's broadcast rights. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the challenges raised "the specter of costly legal battles to defend station holdings... At a minimum, defending against one would cost tens of thousands of dollars in lawyers' fees and probably delay license renewal about three months". Waters's petition was unsuccessful.

As a Democratic representative in Congress, Waters was a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She endorsed Democratic U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination in late January 2008, granting Clinton nationally recognized support that some suggested would "make big waves." Waters later switched her endorsement to U.S. Senator Barack Obama when his lead in the pledged delegate count became insurmountable on the final day of primary voting.

Upon Barney Frank's retirement in 2012, Waters became the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee. On July 24, 2013, she voted in favor of Amendment 100 in H.R. 2397 Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014. The amendment targeted domestic surveillance activities, specifically that of the National Security Agency, and would have limited the flexibility of the NSA's interpretation of the law to collect sweeping data on U.S. citizens. Amendment 100 was rejected, 217–205.

On March 27, 2014, Waters introduced a discussion draft of the Housing Opportunities Move the Economy Forward Act of 2014 known as the Home Forward Act of 2014. A key provision of the bill includes the collection of 10 basis points for "every dollar outstanding mortgages collateralizing covered securities", estimated at $5 billion a year. These funds would be directed to three funds that support affordable housing initiatives, with 75% going to the National Housing trust fund. The National Housing Trust Fund will then provide block grants to states to be used primarily to build, preserve, rehabilitate, and operate rental housing that is affordable to the lowest income households, and groups including seniors, disabled persons and low income workers. The National Housing Trust was enacted in 2008, but has yet to be funded. In 2009, Waters co-sponsored Representative John Conyers's bill calling for reparations for slavery to be paid to black Americans.

For her tenure as chair of the House Financial Services Committee in the 116th Congress, Waters earned an "A" grade from the nonpartisan Lugar Center's Congressional Oversight Hearing Index.

Committee assignments

For the 118th Congress:

Caucus memberships

Personal life

Waters's second husband, Sid Williams, played professional football in the NFL and is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas under the Clinton Administration. They live in Los Angeles's Windsor Square neighborhood.

In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Waters confirmed her sister, Velma Moody, had died of the virus aged 86.

Other achievements

  • Maxine Waters Preparation Center in Watts, California – named after her while she was a member of the California Assembly
  • Co-founder of Black Women's Forum
  • Co-founder of Community Build
  • Received the Bruce F. Vento Award from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty for her work on behalf of homeless persons.
  • Candace Award, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, 1992

Electoral history

California State Assembly

1976 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters 38,133 80.6
Republican Johnnie G. Neely 9,188 19.4
Total votes 47,321 100
Democratic hold
1978 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 30,449 80.8
Republican Timothy F. Faulkner 7,247 19.2
Total votes 37,696 100
Democratic hold
1980 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 39,660 82.9
Republican Yva Hallburn 8,194 17.1
Total votes 47,854 100
Democratic hold
1982 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 54,209 100
Total votes 54,209 100
Democratic hold
1984 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 59,507 85.8
Republican Donald "Don" Weiss 9,884 14.2
Total votes 69,391 100
Democratic hold
1986 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 42,706 84.5
Republican Ezola Foster 6,450 12.8
Libertarian José "Joe" Castañeda 1,360 2.7
Total votes 50,516 100
Democratic hold
1988 California State Assembly 48th district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 49,946 100
Total votes 49,946 100
Democratic hold

U.S. House of Representatives

1990 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters 36,182 88.5
Democratic Lionel Allen 2,666 6.5
Democratic Twain Wilson 1,115 2.7
Democratic Ted Andromidas 930 2.3
Total votes 40,893 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters 51,350 79.4
Republican Bill DeWitt 12,054 18.6
Peace and Freedom Waheed R. Boctor 1,268 2.0
Total votes 64,672 100
Democratic hold
1992 California U.S. House of Representatives 35th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 51,534 89.2
Democratic Roger A. Young 6,252 10.8
Total votes 57,786 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 102,941 82.5
Republican Nate Truman 17,417 14.0
Peace and Freedom Alice Mae Miles 2,797 2.2
Libertarian Carin Rogers 1,618 1.3
Total votes 124,773 100
Democratic gain from Republican
1994 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 65,688 78.1
Republican Nate Truman 18,390 21.9
American Independent Gordan Mego (write-in) 3 nil
Total votes 84,081 100
Democratic hold
1996 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 92,762 85.5
Republican Eric Carlson 13,116 12.1
American Independent Gordan Mego 2,610 2.4
Total votes 108,398 100
Democratic hold
1998 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 78,732 89.3
American Independent Gordan Mego 9,413 10.7
Total votes 88,145 100
Democratic hold
2000 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 100,569 86.5
Republican Carl McGill 12,582 10.8
American Independent Gordan Mego 1,911 1.6
Natural Law Rick Dunstan 1,153 1.0
Total votes 116,215 100
Democratic hold
2002 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 72,401 77.5
Republican Ross Moen 18,094 19.4
American Independent Gordan Mego 2,912 3.1
Total votes 93,407 100
Democratic hold
2004 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 125,949 80.5
Republican Ross Moen 23,591 15.1
American Independent Gordan Mego 3,440 2.2
Libertarian Charles Tate 3,427 2.2
Total votes 156,407 100
Democratic hold
2006 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 31,010 86.1
Democratic Carl McGill 5,000 13.9
Total votes 36,010 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 82,498 83.8
American Independent Gordan Mego 8,343 8.5
Libertarian Paul Ireland 7,665 7.8
Total votes 98,506 100
Democratic hold
2008 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 36,685 100
Total votes 36,685 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 150,778 82.6
Republican Theodore Hayes, Jr. 24,169 13.2
Libertarian Herbert G. Peters 7,632 4.2
Total votes 182,579 100
Democratic hold
2010 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 32,946 100
Total votes 32,946 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 98,131 79.3
Republican K. Bruce Brown 25,561 20.7
independent (politician) Suleiman Charles Edmondson (write-in) 2 nil
Total votes 123,694 100
Democratic hold
2012 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 36,062 65.4
Democratic Bob Flores 19,061 34.5
Total votes 55,123 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 143,123 71.2
Democratic Bob Flores 57,771 28.8
Total votes 200,894 100
Democratic hold
2014 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 33,746 67.2
Republican John Wood, Jr. 16,440 32.8
American Independent Brandon M. Cook (write-in) 12 nil
Total votes 50,198 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 69,681 71.0
Republican John Wood, Jr. 28,521 29.0
Total votes 99,202 100
Democratic hold
2016 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 92,909 76.1
Republican Omar Navarro 29,152 23.9
Total votes 122,061 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 167,017 76.1
Republican Omar Navarro 52,499 23.9
Total votes 219,516 100
Democratic hold
2018 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 63,908 72.4
Republican Omar Navarro 12,522 14.1
Republican Frank T. DeMartini 6,156 7.0
Republican Edwin P. Duterte 3,673 4.3
Green Miguel Angel Zuniga 2,074 2.4
Total votes 88,333 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 152,272 77.7
Republican Omar Navarro 43,780 22.3
Total votes 196,052 100
Democratic hold
2020 California U.S. House of Representatives 29th district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 100,468 78.1
Republican Joe Edward Collins III 14,189 11.0
Republican Omar Navarro 13,939 10.8
Total votes 128,596 100
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 199,210 71.7
Republican Joe Edward Collins III 78,688 28.3
Total votes 277,898 100
Democratic hold
2022 California U.S. House of Representatives 43rd district election
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 55,889 74.3
Republican Omar Navarro 8,927 11.9
Republican Allison Pratt 5,489 7.3
Democratic Jean Monestime 4,952 6.6
Total votes 75,257 100.0
General election
Democratic Maxine Waters (incumbent) 95,462 77.3
Republican Omar Navarro 27,985 22.7
Total votes 123,447 100.0
Democratic hold

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